Just this month, Romeo Chocolates celebrated its four-year anniversary in Downtown, but these days owner and chocolatier Romeo Garcia has even more to celebrate, with the opening of his second store at The Hangar, at Long Beach Exchange.
“We wanted to be in The Hangar for quite some time,” Garcia said. “And we’ve wanted to make sure we found the right space and we just fell in love with the glass cubes inside the hangar and we thought it would be a perfect footprint for a local Long Beach brand to be in the Hangar…. to kind of share our Long Beach story here.”
The award-winning gourmet chocolate shop is nestled between Amorcito and Jay Bird’s Nashville Hot Chicken, and is currently open for business. However, a grand opening celebration is expected Nov. 6 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2 p.m. Romeo Chocolates will offer special gift boxes and prizes for those who attend.
Romeo Chocolates at The Hangar is, comparatively, smaller than its flagship store on Pine Avenue and doesn’t have a kitchen. As such, Garcia said The Hangar location will focus on providing one-of-a-kind and curated packaged gifts of his chocolates and truffles, brownies, soft-baked cookies as well as products such as candles or houseplants from other local businesses.
“We support a lot of our local makers because we kind of grew up together as a cohort, as entrepreneurs,” Garcia said. “So, we want to extend that support forward to other artists.”
Romeo Chocolates will be an ideal destination for holiday gifts, offering special holiday collections and limited-edition creations soon to come, Garcia said. Patrons will be able to purchase Dia De Los Muertos Las Calaveras truffles, or skull candy chocolates, and Garcia said they’re also bringing back the very popular hot cocoa bombs and chocolate-covered strawberries.
And, of course, guests will be treated to the premiere artisan chocolates and truffles that the lauded chocolatier is so well known for. Garcia uses ethically sourced cacao and chocolate from around the world to make his European-centric treats, particularly modeled after Belgium truffle-making traditions. His masterful training in Belgium guides his style, but Garcia’s training also heralds from San Francisco’s Ecole Chocolat Professional School of Chocolate Arts.
Every chocolate, from dark to milk to white, are single-origin, Garcia said, and he will often travel to the locations he sources from, including Ecuador, the Philippines and Hawaii.
“That means that we can dial in to a specific country or even region within that country to get the flavor profiles of that chocolate, similar to wine,” he said. “We support ethically sourced, fair-trade chocolates and we make sure that throughout the supply chain we’re supporting the farmers and the makers in the cacao industry.”
Garcia notes that those who are interested in keeping up with new trends within the company may sign up for their monthly VIP subscription program which, among its many perks, offers monthly chocolate and wine tastings that often incorporate new creations Garcia plans to put on the menu.
Garcia got his start in the world of chocolate while taking weekend cooking classes in San Francisco. He said he became so fond of the craft he left his fast-paced job in higher education to pursue this new creative career. He started by selling his chocolates, made from home, at pop-ups in neighborhoods all over Long Beach until he was able to open his first brick-and-mortar three years later, in 2017.
When Romeo Garcia thinks back on the journey of his life, he remains grateful.
“It was truly a labor of love, because I cashed out my teacher’s retirement, which wasn’t a whole lot to begin with,” he said. “And then we launched a successful Kickstarter campaign, and we were able to open that [first] shop. I think by the grace of just really supportive customers and a supportive community, we survived and are continuing to survive through the pandemic and making adjustments as we go.”
Romeo Chocolates at The Hangar will be open Thursday through Sunday from noon to 7:30 p.m. The Hangar is at 4150 McGowen St.
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